Special edition: Omega-3s

Omega-3 hits €28bn in 2015 – growth predicted

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Global omega-3 market set for 5% growth in next years according to GOED. © iStock
Global omega-3 market set for 5% growth in next years according to GOED. © iStock

Related tags Omega-3 form dha Docosahexaenoic acid Milk Us Eu Snack

The global omega-3 finished product market was worth €28 billion in 2015 and is set for pan-sector growth in the coming years to add €5bn by 2018, despite sustainability and scientific challenges.

“Our global estimate show the market growing at about 5% year, and this growth will remain more or less stable for two or three years,”​ said Aldo Bernasconi, PhD from the trade group the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED).

GOED research indicates the market will be worth €33bn in 2018 across food, supplements, pet food, infant formula, clinical nutrition, medical foods and pharmaceuticals.

Bernasconi acknowledged the food and nutrition sector could always be hit by negativity as was the case with the widely criticised Brasky study​ from 2014 that nonetheless affected supplement sales in the US and elsewhere.

“A lot has happened since 2012, many things that we didn’t expect affected the market, and I imagine we will have some surprises coming, so I don’t dare to extend our growth estimates beyond that date.”

Similarly sustainability questions around some fisheries continue to be an issue for the industry, although more fisheries are winning sustainability certifications like those of Friend of the Sea and the Marine Stewardship Council.

A consumer survey found concern about omega-3 sourcing range from  4.6% of those surveyed  in Australia to 17.6% in India, 6.8% in the US, 9.4% in Germany, 8% in France and 13.4% in China. 

GOED broke 2014 fish-sourced omega-3 v​olumes down into:

  • refined anchovy oils (41,600 metric tonnes)
  • concentrates (13,600 mT)
  • cod liver oil (11,200 mT)
  • menhaden oil (8,500 mT)
  • salmon (6,100 mT)
  • tuna (2,600 mT)

Standard bearer

infant formula baby nutrition
© iStock

Euromonitor International ingredients analyst John George said infant formula was the stand-out omega-3 food category, above breads, milks and yoghurts. “Milk formula remains the standard bearer for omega-3. The EU recently made fortification with omega-3 form DHA mandatory, however it hasn’t been widely publicised, since many milk formula  products, particularly in Western Europe, already contain omega-3.”

“While other examples of omega-3  fortified foods do exist, none of them have been embraced in quite the same way as milk formula, where the benefits are perhaps more widely understood.”

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) has an EU-approved claim for infant brain and eye development, although such marketing is forbidden on infant formula products for babies up to six months of age under strict formula marketing rules across the EU’s 28 member states and in many other parts of the world.

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